Throughout history, more women have died in childbirth than men have died in battle, Mahmoud Fathalla, founder of the Safe Motherhood Initiative, told attendees at the recent Global Maternal Health Conference in Arusha, Tanzania, co-sponsored by Harvard School of Public Health’s Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) and Management and Development for Health (MDH), a Tanzanian nonprofit. Fathalla and other speakers urged the more than 750 audience members, who represented 59 countries and work in more than 110 countries, to continue working for the health of the 200 million women who become pregnant each year.
Conference attendees collaborated on a maternal health manifesto that was published in The Lancet on Feb. 22. Ana Langer, director of the MHTF and professor of the practice of public health at HSPH, Lancet Editor Richard Horton, and Guerino Chalamilla, executive director of MDH, co-authored the piece, which incorporated ideas raised during the conference and feedback from the participants. The authors hope to keep maternal and women’s health part of discussions during the High-level Dialogue on Health in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, held March 5-6, in Gaborone, Botswana. Representatives from the World Health Organization and United Nations will meet with government officials and experts from around the world to develop suggestions for the development framework that will follow the Millennium Development Goals.